KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City-area teen captured a historic astronomical event on his camera this week.
The Astronomical Society of Kansas City said one of its youngest members, 15-year-old Arsalaan Syed, of Overland Park, Kansas, captured the comet “C/2022 E3 (ZTF)” at Powell Observatory in Louisburg, on Thursday, just after 11:30 p.m. through his telescope, an 8-inch Celestron, using his iPhone camera.
The green comet was first discovered in March 2022 by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at California’s Zwicky Transient Facility.
The last time the comet passed through our solar system was a little more than 50,000 years ago, and it reached its perihelion (or its closest point to the sun) on Jan. 12, when it was within 100 million miles of the sun, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
On Feb. 2, the comet will only be about 26 million miles from Earth. This is the closest it has passed since the Upper Paleolithic era, an epoch of human history when Homo sapiens are believed to have left Africa and settled in Asia and Europe.
NASA said that in the Northern Hemisphere, the comet will be visible in the mornings toward the northwest. In February, it will move below the horizon and become visible in the Southern Hemisphere.
Viewers may be able to see the comet with the naked eye, but binoculars or a telescope is best recommended.
The comet was named for where it was discovered (the Zwicky Transient Facility) and the year it was discovered (2022). Since it was discovered in the first part of March, or the fifth “half-month” of the year, it was designated E, the fifth letter of the alphabet. Finally, it was third object discovered that half-month, hence “E3.”
Learn more about Astronomical Society of Kansas City or how to become a member here.